Monday, July 17, 2017

Provincial Historic Sites Reproductions and Games

Red Ochre stained Beothuk
knife reproduction
Last week, I delivered an order of artifact reproductions and games to the folks at Provincial Historic Sites to use in interpretive programming.  One set was a collection of Beothuk hunting tools, including a knife, scraper, deer spear, harpoon, and three arrows.  A second batch of games included rawhide buzzers, a waltes set, and pin-and-cup games.
The harpoon and deer spear (lance) are
very hard to photograph because of
their length.
Some of these pieces are new to me, including the Beothuk lance.  I used the archaeology site at Russell's Point as the reference collection for the lithics in the collection.  The knife blade, end scraper,  arrowheads, and lance head are all based on artifacts found by Bill Gilbert in his MA research at Russell's Point.  I used a metal endblade on the harpoon because I've only seen metal endblades on Beothuk examples of that implement.  It's possible that some of the lithic artifacts that we find in Beothuk sites and classify as arrowheads or triangular bifaces were used to tip harpoon heads, but no one has found one in association with a harpoon head to prove it.  Here's a link to a blog post from 2014 where I discuss the references available for Beothuk harpoons and deer spears.

Beothuk harpoon and lance reproductions

The point of this lance is based on a large bi-pointed artifact found at Russell's Point.  It's possible that it was an unhafted bifacial knife, but it was symetrical enough that it's possible that it tipped a long deer spear, similar to the long iron tipped deer spears of the later historic period.

An antler harpoon head with a steel endblade and sinew lashing.  Like all of the Beothuk reproductions that I make, it is covered in red ochre.  The harpoon head has a line attached and is designed to slip off the end of the long wooden harpoon shaft when it is stabbed into a seal.

The complete harpoon and lance.

According to historic observations and drawings by Shanawdithit, the harpoon and dear spear were very long.  The deer spears were reported to be 12 feet long, while harpoons were variously reported as 12-14 feet long.  The one shown here is 13 feet long and the deer spear is 12 feet long.  These tools are so lengthy, that I make them in two pieces with a hard raw hide socket to join them together.  The can be taken apart for transportation and storage and reassembled for interpretation.

Beothuk style chert knife in a wood handle with sinew lashing and red ochre staining.

Hafted endscraper.  The endscrapers at Russell's Point were primarily made on flakes and had very rounded scraping edges, especially when compared to similar Palaeoeskimo artifacts from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Wood artifacts are very rare form Beothuk archaeological sites.  There are a handful of pieces from ethnographic contexts, but things like tool handles are very hard to come by.  When I don't have archaeological references to use, I try to fill in the blanks as simply as possible.

Beothuk arrow reproductions.  Chert, sinew, pine, goose feathers, red ochre

The Beothuk reproductions together.

Raw hide buzzer game
A buzzer in action. You can do the same thing with a big button twisted on a string.  It sounds like the wind when it whirs.

Bone and antler pin and cup games.


Waltes.  This is a Mi'kmaq game.  There are many examples of this game in the Maritimes and it's becoming popular among the Mi'kmaq of Newfoundland.  The game is played with a shallow wooden bowl and six game pieces.  The game pieces are blank on one side and incised with a design on the other and the game is scored based on the combination of face-up and face-down dice when they are flipped in the bowl.  The sticks are used for scoring.  Provincial Historic Sites tried unsuccessfully to find a Mi'kmaq craftsperson in the Province to make this game set before coming to me.  It would be good to see someone from the Mi'kmaq community making these.

Photo Credits: 
1-6, 8-10, 13, 15-17: Tim Rast
7, 11, 12, 14: Lori White
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